Absolute and Relative

Question 1

What is the definition of Absolute?

Question 2

What is the definition of Relative?


The two concepts Absolute and Relative are used in the Special Relativity Theory and the General Relativity Theory.
As such a proper definition is highly important.

Answer question 1

The true physical reality is absolute. This is what the Laws of Nature should describe.

Answer question 2

This is the way we observe the physical reality. What we observe is a distorted picture of the physical reality. In a sense this is always the case.


Suppose in the true physical reality there are two supernova's in two Galaxys, both at the same time.
What is the chance that we on Earth will observe those two events also simultaneous?
Very small.

The opposite is also true. When we observe two supernovas simultaneous, most probably the true events did not happen simultaneous. The reason is the true or absolute distance between the occurrence of the events and the position of the observation.


A good definition of Absolute and Relative is very difficult. There is more involved than only calling the speed of light absolute. In order to explain the difficulty of defining the absolute reality the program VSUN.BAS is supplied. In this program the speed of the solar system is calculated.



Last modified: 3 September 1997

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